Why myths were written: o 1. Explained the unexplainable o 2. Justified religious practices o 3. Gave credibility to leaders o 4. Gave hope o 5. Polytheistic (more than one god) o 6. Centered around the twelve Olympians (primary Greek gods)
Tragic hero A tragedy recounts the downfall of a tragic hero. A tragic hero is: o A dignified character, usually of noble birth. o A person who possesses a tragic flaw, or hamartia (usually pride, or hubris) which leads to a catastrophe
Tragic hero characteristics o 1) The hero has a flaw or error of judgment (hamartia) o 2) A reversal of fortune (peripeteia) is brought about because of the hero’s error in judgment. o 3) The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero’s own actions (anagnorisis). o 4) The hero has Excessive Pride (hubris) o 5) The character’s fate must be greater than deserved.
Tragic hero cycle Step 1: The Mistake After meeting the hero and learning some back-story, things get started with a mistake. This is where the character’s hamartia is revealed, and his/her destruction begins.
Step 2: Anagorisis This is a term meaning “recognition.” At this phase, the hero becomes aware of his/her mistake and may attempt to correct
Step 3: Peripeteia “Reversal” A sudden reversal of fortunes, a surprising event that is unexpected by the audience, the turning point toward tragedy in the protagonist’s fortune
Step 4: Nemesis and Catastrophe “Retribution” or “Payback” This is the most intense point on the hero’s tragic journey. The reversal reaches it’s horrible conclusion, a catastrophe.
Final Step: Catharsis o This means “renewal” or “purification,” and it’s intended more for the audience than the characters. Because the audience just witnessed a lot of tragic events, the play ends with a moment of calm. While certainly not a “happy ending,” the catharsis shows the characters learning from their mistakes or moving on from the tragedy.
Antigone • Daughter of Jokasta and Oedipus• Engaged to Haimon• Sister of Ismene, Eteokles, Polyneikes
Kreon • Brother of Jocasta, uncle of Antigone• Becomes king after Eteokles and Polyneikes die
Eteokles • Brother of Polyneikes• Shared throne with Polyneikes, refuses to give it up
Polyneikes • Brother of Eteokles• Revolts againt Eteokles when he refuses to give up throne• Kreon degrees he is not to be given a proper burial
Oedipus • Son of Jocasta and Laius• Kills father, marries mother• Gouges his eyes out
Jokasta • Wife/mother of Oedipus, mother of Antigone• Kills herself
Eurydike • Wife of Creon• Violently kills herself
Ismene • Sister of Antigone• Antigone’s foil• Traditionally feminine
Chorus • the 15 singers/dancers who remark on the action
Messenger • reports on violent parts not shown
Sophocles • (496-406 B.C.) • won 24 contests • never lower than 2nd • believed to have introduced the 3rd actor • fixed the chorus at 15 (had been 50)
stichomythia line by line dialogue meant to convey tension
hamartia Hamartia means “missing the mark”, “ignorance” or in this case a tragic “fatal flaw.” Each tragic hero has a trait or makes a decision that leads to his/her downfall. The trait is out of their control, and the decision is usually an innocent mistake with terrible outcomes
hubris One of the most common flaws in tragic heroes is hubris. This is excessive arrogance or stubbornness.
anagorisis The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero’s own actions
peripeteia A reversal of fortune
nemesis/catastrophe This is the most intense point on the hero’s tragic journey. The reversal reaches its horrible conclusion, a disaster.
episode the main action of the play
exodus sung by the chorus as it makes its final exit, which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play
parados side entrance to stage
ode songs (and often dances) that reflect on the events of the episodes, and weave the plot into a cohesive whole
foil a character that is meant to highlight certain characteristics of another character with their differences.
allusion A reference to something or someone commonly known from literature, history, religion, or other areas of culture. It is used to bring deep meaning or insight into the ideas of the text.
catharsis This means “renewal” or “purification.”
theatron Seating for audience
skene Portion of stage where actors performed (included 1-3 doors in and out)
orchestra “Dancing Place” where chorus sang to the audience
themes Fate rules our livesHonor the godsPride causes pain (good sense leads to happiness)

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